Structural Chemistry

, Volume 26, Issue 5–6, pp 1411–1423 | Cite as

Accurate modeling of cation–π interactions in enzymes: a case study on the CDPCho:phosphocholine cytidylyltransferase complex

  • Anikó Lábas
  • Balázs Krámos
  • Imre Bakó
  • Julianna OláhEmail author
Original Research


Cation–π interactions are functionally relevant, strong secondary interactions that play versatile roles in a variety of chemical and biological systems. Therefore, it is very important to be able to describe accurately and reliably these interactions. In this study, we propose a methodology for the accurate modeling of cation–π interactions in proteins using QM/MM calculations. We developed a methodology for computing the many-body interaction energy terms and tested the effect of various factors on the accuracy of the binding energy. We found that once well-equilibrated structures were reached in the MD simulations, very similar results can be obtained for the various snapshots taken from the trajectory. The calculated interaction energies were only slightly influenced by electrostatic embedding of the point charges in the QM/MM calculations and by QM/MM geometry optimization. The calculated molecular mechanics interaction energies were off by 50 % for cation–π interactions. Instead, we suggest the calibration of force fields based on fragment-based QM calculations on geometries obtained from MD simulations to yield reliable binding energies at reduced computational cost.


Cation–π interaction Energy decomposition CDPCho:phosphocholine cytidylyltransferase 



The authors thank Dr. Goedele Roos (ULB, Belgium), Gergely N. Nagy, and Dr. Andras T. Rokob (MTA TTK, Hungary) for careful reading of the manuscript and helpful discussions. We are grateful for the support of the New Széchenyi Plan TAMOP-4.2.2/B-10/1-2010-0009 and for the financial support of OTKA Grant No. 108721. J.O. acknowledges receipt of a Bolyai János Research Fellowship. A.L. acknowledges the financial support of Richter Gedeon Talentum Foundation.

Supplementary material

11224_2015_658_MOESM1_ESM.docx (27 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 26 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anikó Lábas
    • 1
  • Balázs Krámos
    • 1
    • 2
  • Imre Bakó
    • 2
  • Julianna Oláh
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Inorganic and Analytical ChemistryBudapest University of Technology and EconomicsBudapestHungary
  2. 2.Institute of Organic Chemistry Research Centre for Natural SciencesHungarian Academy of ScienceBudapestHungary

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